Family of Ricky Whidden, Loxahatchee man killed by deputy: Video differs from PBSO version of events

Posted at 7:42 PM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-06 22:09:26-05
Does the story match the video? Contact 5 is getting the first look at surveillance video from the day a Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy shot and killed a Loxahatchee man.
The sheriff's office says 46-year-old Ricky Whidden lunged at one of their deputies with a knife, but family members say video from that night shows Ricky running away from deputies. 
"We loved our son, we didn't expect this to happen," Owen Whidden told Contact 5, standing in front of the spot where his son Ricky Whidden was shot by a PBSO deputy.
It was New Year's Eve. "I just feel like he was crying out for help," said Dianne Whidden, Ricky's mother. "About 12:30, quarter to one, he woke us both up and said he felt suicidal."
Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia two years ago, Ricky Whidden told his parents to call 911 that night. 
Whidden's mom said she told the 911 dispatcher her son had a mental illness, a knife in his hand, but was not threatening them. That 911 call has not been released, because of FDLE's ongoing investigation into the shooting.
The Whidden say surveillance video, taken from a neighbor's surveillance camera across from their yard, shows Ricky Whidden running away from deputies as they arrive to the house. 
"That's not the kind of help he wanted. Or needed," said Dianne.
While running, Whidden fell, got up and fell again. The video shows Whidden turn around and run in a different direction, falling a third time. After a fourth fall, he didn't get back up. 
"I feel like they should not have come on to our property with their guns drawn, knowing he had a mental problem," said Dianne Whidden.
When asked about the videos, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office says they stand by what they told media the day it happened, that they were responding to reports of a man with a knife threatening himself and his family. Dianne and Owen Whidden say he was not threatening them.
"They never tried to talk him down, just stop, ask him Rick what's the problem. He would have stopped backing up," said Dianne.
A PBSO spokeswoman tells Contact 5,  "Regarding the two videos you possess, it clearly shows Whidden refused deputy commands. Deputies used a non-lethal weapon twice in an attempt to take him into custody safely, however, both times he was able to get back up and run away before deputies could gain control of him.
The videos you possess also show Whidden running towards the K9 deputy with knife in hand.  The K9 deputy, in fear for his life and the life of his K9 partner, discharged his firearm, striking Whidden in the torso area. "
Former FBI Agent Stuart Kaplan is representing the Whidden family. He says the videos don't match the narrative.
"There is nothing that would suggest there was any imminent danger to that deputy. Certainly nothing to suggest he lunged at anybody," said Stuart. 
Kaplan says there are also questions about the use of force used after Whidden was shot and lying on the ground. He shared a picture with Contact 5, showing bite marks all over Ricky Whidden's face.
The Whiddens say a detective told them, the K9 only bit his hand. 
"He says we handcuffed him you know and he wouldn't respond to our verbal commands, then we put the dog on him. Well the dog bit his face off is what it was. We couldn't have an open casket on account of his face was bit off," said Owen Whidden.
Stuart Kaplan and Owen Whidden say they feel law enforcement need better training when it comes to responding to people with mental illness. 
PBSO says they do train deputies and other NON PBSO personnel through the crisis intervention team, a one week, 40 hour class. More than 1800 personnel have been trained. 
FDLE is currently investigating the Loxahatchee shooting, and PBSO is conducting an internal investigation. Deputy Justin Rigney went back on active duty 5 days after the shooting.